Stephanie Bell is a UX designer, who we first met at an InnovateHer event where she was talking about her experience of mentoring girls aged 12-16 to inspire them to engage with technology.
We had such a lovely afternoon catching up with Stephanie over lunch and some cake to talk about our shared love of STEM and supporting the next generation.
Can you give a summary of the change you have created and how?
I work full time as a Web Designer at Social Chain and volunteer as a mentor with InnovateHer, teaching their Tech For Good programme. They're such an important initiative and I feel honoured to be associated with them and grateful that Social Chain allowed me to do this alongside my work.
Why did you want to create change?
The UK's design workforce is mostly male (78%), which is higher than compared to the wider UK workforce, which is 53% male. This is also despite women making up 63% of all students studying creative arts and design courses at university.* Which is hugely concerning, where do all the women go? It felt important to show young women that their future career options are multiple, varied and that they are entitled to a place at the table, just as much as young men.
*stats courtesy of the Design Economy paper from Design Council 2018.
What change would you like to see?
More women in design and tech and more inspiring women in leadership roles. The girls that I've taught from the Coop Academy have so much to offer. They're witty, hilarious and would be an asset to the industry. They can choose to pursue a career in tech and know that there is a network of mentors who will support and encourage them, or they can choose not to but are at least aware that a career in tech is a valid option which is open to them.
What actions can we take to help create that change?
We need to start early. Women's opinions of their self-worth begin at a young age and are malleable. We need to be aware of how we talk to girls and check in with those labels. Is she bossy or is she just being organised? Is she sassy or is she just confident? Is she loud or does she just want to be heard? We need to encourage girls that their opinions matter, we need to bolster their confidence and reassure them that they can do it. We need their intellect, empathy and innovation within the design and tech industry, let's encourage them to get there.
Any advice on how to create change?
To any tech businesses or CEO's check in with what you're doing to close the gender pay gap. We can't bring these young women into industry and set them up for a fall. To any young women considering a career in tech be resilient, be bold and take up some bloody space, you deserve to be here!